New Born Kitten Care
Kittens require special care. Especially newborn kittens. If you plan to raise kittens from newborns, either from a home litter or as a foster, you need to pay careful attention to their particular needs and challenges. They’re newborn after all, and that brings with it a higher level of responsibility. Newborn kittens can’t care for themselves at all, so the new born caretaker must do exactly what’s needed to get their newborn kittens through to an older age.
Basic newborn kitten care has to do with feeding and warmth. It’s possible to meet all your newborn kittens’ needs, and it’s a delight to see them grow up strong and healthy.
Feeding Newborn Kittens
If at all possible, find a nursing female cat for newborn kittens. They’re the best source for newborn kitten nutrition.
If you don’t have or know of a nursing female cat, you’ll need to bottle feed.
Always buy cans that are marked for newborn kittens, not those that say cat. Newborn kittens have special nutritional needs; follow the instructions on the newborn kitten milk to mix it just like baby formula.
Keep backup on hand, either replacement milk from a nursing female, or extra formula. If you accidentally run out of newborn milk, kitten food, then use boiled water, or boil rice and use the drained water that contains starch.
Timing and Handfeeding
Newborn kittens need constant supervision. If you plan to raise a newborn, you or someone else must be around all day. Kittens need to eat every 2-3 hours depending on their metabolism.
You need a specific bottle and teat set for feeding newborn kittens. This set lets you control the amount of milk a kitten receives. If you don’t have a set, you should use a syringe to drip milk into the kitten’s mouth. The kitten needs to suckle, so buy a set as soon as possible.
Everything you use needs to be fully sterilized. You must sterilize: use a solution or sterilize like you would baby bottles.
Follow the directions closely when mixing formula, and make certain the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. This is a newborn after all.
Kittens must be warm when they’re fed, so you must check the newborn’s temperature carefully. A heating pad under several blankets works well. The kitten’s temperature needs to be 96-100 F for their first three weeks.
The kitten needs to lay on your lap and be supported, like they would be when feeding from a mom; never with their head raised. Introduce the teat carefully and go slowly. Don’t feed too much at a time.
Remember: follow the instructions on the formula. They will tell you how much formula to use while your newborn is growing through 21+ weeks.
If milk comes through the kitten’s nose or the belly sticks out and is tight, stop feeding. Just like burping a human baby, kittens need burping also. Burp the kitten by rubbing its belly while standing up against you, back to you.
After you’re done feeding, you need to wipe the kitten’s bottom. A damp cloth is like the mother’s tongue, and you need to rub it over the kitten’s anus. They will poop, which you will clean up. A clean cloth should be used after to leave the kitten’s bottom clean.
Return your kitten to their snuggly warm bed; they’re ready to sleep until their next feeding. Your vet can help you learn when to wean. Until then, keep feeding the same way. Good job, newborn kitten parent!